Album Reviews, Headlines

Review: Various Artists – The Songs of Tony Sly: A Tribute

tonslyIt’s difficult to separate Tony Sly the solo artist from No Use For a Name the band. Through the years the band were at their most popular, Sly was synonymous with the name and their craft. Yet it often forgotten the band were around for several years without Sly at the helm. But the truth is, while much of their earliest New Red Archives material exhibits a far “rawer” quality to it, it was with Sly that No Use For a Name became a household name in punk around the globe. Bridging the gap between melody and aggression, Sly’s songs were crafted with the backbone established in albums like Incognito, but embraced the kinds of harmonies that defined that generation’s brand of punk. And with it, No Use For a Name along with helped punk become a more visible form of musical expression.

His death was, and still is, an immensely sad and tragic occurrence whose ripple effect continues on in the community in which he was such an important part of. Now over a year since, some of his closest friends and contemporaries have put together The Songs Of Tony Sly: A Tribute, a stellar compilation that is both a homage, and a sombre remembering of Sly and his work over the years.

It would have been easy to have limited the tribute to up-tempo, melodic punk the band was synonymous with. And while the best track on here, Strung Out’s blistering cover of “Soulmate”, is just that, the work on show here goes to prove that Sly was more than just power chords and great melodies. From the opening subtle touch of Karina Danike’s cover of “Biggest Lie” (from NUFAN’s final studio album) to the ska-flavored rocksteady of Mad Caddies’ “AM” and Snuff’s almost-calypso like rendition of “On The Outside”, the diverse reconfigurations of the songs here are a great barometer of how far reaching Sly and his bandmates were in terms of the kinds of different artists they connected with.

Songs that were originally done with razor sharp distortion and hard hitting percussions are turned into acoustic-tinged reflections of musical vulnerability. Like Alkaline Trio’s almost macabre toned “Straight From The Jacket” or even Simple Plan’s weirdly bouncy reworking of one of No Use’s best tracks “Justified Black Eye”. In a sense, the latter is the one serious flaw of the album; it is a very off-putting rendition that probably has more to do with the original version being what it is (the long lasting resonance of that song done in its original form) than Simple Plan’s take on it.

The tribute’s most affecting moment is perhaps Rise Against’s cover of “For Fiona”. Tim McIlrath flies solo with a melancholy take of the song, one about Sly’s love for his daughter. In it Sly sings; “So you stay young while I get old / But always know, I’m your best friend”, and when McIlrath sings this in his piercing voice, there is an incredible sadness and finality to Sly’s passing. It’s clear how much he loved his family and when you listen to this song, you’re all but made aware of how real it is.

Purchasing this album digitally means you’re given a few extra tracks that are a nice addition to the mix. The bonus tracks include The Swellers’ version of “Chasing Rainbows” and a fantastic piano-only rendition of “International You Day” by Ryan Hardester which closes out the project in fitting and beautiful fashion.

For fans of Sly and No Use For a Name, this compilation (purchasing it) is perhaps the closest we’ll get to a contribution to his legacy. I’ve written about how Sly and his music affected me on the other side of the globe and feel that, with proceeds going to the Tony Sly Memorial Fund, this compilation is a small, but honest way of saying “thank you” to a man whose music changed people close to him, people who knew him in passing, and of course, people like me he never met.

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Listen to Strung Out’s cover of “Soulmate”:

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The Songs Of Tony Sly: A Tribute is available now via Fat Wreck

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Sight & Sound

Listen to Strung Out’s cover of “Soulmate”

With Fat Wreck’s A Tribute To Tony Sly, the label has given fans a chance to hear many different interpretations of Sly’s work by many of his close friends and contemporaries. It’s a great cause and a way for fans to remember some of the great songs Sly wrote through his years as frontman for No Use For a Name.

To help spread the word of  the release, Strung Out’s rather magnificent cover of No Use For A Name’s “Soulmate” is now online for you hear.

Has anything ever sounded so glorious?

No one does melodic urgency as good as Strung Out and with “Soulmate” being right up their (velvet) alley, this cover is a perfect amalgamation of the great qualities that both bands possess/possessed.

A Tribute To Tony Sly is available starting today via Fat Wreck and proceeds from the release will go to the Tony Sly Memorial Fund.

If you were ever a fan of No Use For a Name, buy the record as the digital download is only $10.

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Music, Sight & Sound

Esquire streams Alkaline Trio’s Tony Sly cover

Fat Wreck is slated to release the much anticipated tribute to Tony Sly in a few weeks and Esquire(!!) is premiering the first official recording from it. We’ve written about how much Tony Sly influenced us, and we can’t wait to hear this record. There are a slate of great artists involved in the project and proceeds from the release are going to the Tony Sly Memorial Fund for his wife and children.

Check out the official LP track listing below and hit up the link to listen to Alkaline Trio’s cover of No Use For a Name’s “Straight From The Jacket”. The album is out October 29th via Fat Wreck.

A Tribute To Tony Sly

1: Karina Denike Biggest Lie
2: Mad Caddies AM
3: Strung Out Soulmate
4: Rise Against For Fiona
5: Bad Religion Let It Slide
6: NOFX The Shortest Pier
7: Snuff On the Outside
8: The Bouncing Souls Homecoming
9: Old Man Markley Feel Good Song of the Year
10: Lagwagon Discomfort Inn
11: Teenage Bottlerocket Via Munich
12: Frank Turner Keira
13: Get Dead Pre-Medicated Murder
14: Pennywise Devonshire and Crown
15: Alkaline Trio Straight from the Jacket
16: The Gaslight Anthem Capo 4th Fret
17: Yellowcard Already Won
18: Swingin’ Utters Not Your Savior
19: The Flatliners Fireball
20: Simple Plan Justified Black Eye
21: Useless ID Frances Stewart
22: Jon Snodgrass & the Dead Peasants On the Outside
23: American Steel Dark Corner
24: Frenzal Rhomb Flying South
25: Anti-Flag Toaster in the Bathtub
26: Joey Cape with Scorpios International You Day

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Featured, Music

Invincible: Rest In Peace Tony Sly

How does one find the right words? For someone who admired and respected Tony Sly from a distance, the day has been part coming to terms of what has happened and part sheer disbelief. Almost two decades since I first came across No Use For A Name, the music Sly and his bandmates wrote still resonate greatly, and a small part of myself just wanted to do what I’m sure he had done for so long; write down and express the many things that brewed beneath the surface.

Leche Con Carne and their spot on Survival Of The Fattest were my introduction to the band and I was immediately taken aback by songs like “Soulmate” and “Justified Black Eye”, music that could be both urgent and accessible. Their music was and is a perfect blend of aggression and unrelenting melody. It’s my kind of tune.

I can’t profess to know much about him, but from his music I know that he had a daughter, liked Irish music and that he made many friends on the tour circuit. The latter easy to see with so many of his contemporaries expressing their sadness today, and it’s a pretty definitive list of bands I grew up with, loved and listened: The Bouncing Souls, Less than Jake, Face to Face, Strung Out, Bad Religion, The Ataris.

I saw No Use For a Name live twice. Once back in 99/00 at Slim’s in San Francisco when they opened for NOFX, and the second at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne on their Keep Them Confused tour. Both shows were energized by Tony’s enthusiasm; no matter how long it seemed he’d been touring. And I for one, am happy I got to see some of my favorite songs performed from the best place possible; from the pit.

No one would ever call me a musician (one of the bands I was in back in the day covered “Straight From The Jacket” if that means anything) so I guess this is just from a fan. I never got to meet Tony, and I can’t imagine what his family and close friends are dealing with at the moment. But for someone who grew up on the other side of the planet, his music traveled across oceans and through borders and changed the life of some kid he never met. I don’t know why he died and I don’t really want to know, but I wanted to say thanks.

“Somebody get me off this lonely sad parade.
The differences a hundred miles, but a couple months away.
I’m saying hello just to say goodbye.”

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